Saturday, November 5, 2011

Milwaukee's Day of the Dead Parade

Last week, I was lucky enough to witness the Day of the Dead parade in Milwaukee. The parade ended and then began again at the art gallery I shared in a previous blog post. A giant skeleton was hanging in front of the gallery. This is the window you guys saw the Marilyn Monroe skeleton in before.

The parade was not heavily advertised. The only way I knew about it was from searching online for Day of the Dead events in Milwaukee. This was a very intimate community gathering. For the most part, it appeared that only the friends and family of those in the parade were watching. The parade participants did not seem to mind an audience. A few smiled for my camera.


Many of the people in the parade had painted their faces like sugar skulls. Some carried photos of their lost loved ones, and others carried giant skull signs and masks.

A few people pushed shopping carts full of skulls and flowers.

Children from local dance groups joined in.


These are Aztec warrior skeletons. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what they are. According to Wikipedia:

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to a goddess called Mictecacihuatl.

I would love to hear someone correctly pronounce the name of that goddess!


I love the added touch of the cigarette to this skull.

A skeletal band marched through the parade. They were very dramatic!

I thought this bearded man was the most unnerving member of the band!

Each skeleton woman's torso is carried by a person wearing stilts.


Isn't her hair great? I love that red, braided fabric around her bun.

A cat skull

Notice the guy carrying a cactus at the end of the parade. I'm not sure why he brought the cactus along, but he kept holding it up in the air as if he were making a toast!

This last photo is possibly my favorite. I love how everything surrounding the man is a blur.

I checked Youtube to see if there were any videos of the parade I attended, and was surprised to actually find a few! What's funny is that I remember seeing the man who was taping this first one. I recognize the view of the street he had from standing on his car. If you watch this, you will recognize some of the people from my photos.

I was only around for the afternoon events, but it appears that more went on at night. Next year, I'll stick around a while longer!

I hope you enjoyed this parade! If you watched the first video, it's almost like you were there. Witnessing this was such a unique experience. It was so cool of this community to share their culture and holiday with anyone who wanted to show up. I suggest that next year you guys search for Day of the Dead events in your area. You never know what you might find!


  1. I love the giant skeleton hanging outside the art gallery. Now THAT would make a very cool Halloween decoration. The parade looks like a lot of fun. The dancing in the second video seems like it must be influenced by their Aztec traditions.

    I will have to see if there are any Day of the Dead events in Melbourne. I can't imagine there would be, but you never can tell!

  2. I wish I could attend one of these parades. It looks really cool.

  3. That looks like a wonderful time was had. :)

  4. That skeleton would be an awesome costume if you could convert it to a giant puppet. I never thought to check for Day of the Dead events locally. I'll have to try and remember for next year.

  5. How awesome was this!!! I would have loved to have been there....the costumes were beautiful!


  6. How wonderful that you were able to witness such a beautiful moment. thank you for sharing all the awesome pics. i felt as if I was there with you.

  7. How cool!!! I bet that was really something to see and be apart of! Thanks for sharing all the great pics! =)

  8. Nice. I've always loved the whole aesthetic of Dia de los Muertos. I've always wanted to attend an event like this, but have been afraid of being accused of cultural tourism. Sounds like this event was very welcoming to the general public though.

  9. Little Gothic Horrors ~ Yeah! I wonder if the gallery would let me borrow the skeleton for our party? ;) It must have been kind of an ordeal to hang it up.

    I loved the video from the night time festivities. I wish I'd been able to see the dance in person, but there's always next year! I liked how the dancers in skeleton outfits dangled their arms. That's how I imagine a skeleton would dance. I couldn't believe how flexible the guy in the middle was. He was able to stay bent completely backwards through the entire dance. He must do yoga or something!

    I got your email about the Day of the Dead event near you. What a cool surprise!

    Gabriel ~ Hey! Welcome to my blog. :) Well, try an online search for Day of the Dead events. You never know what you might find near you! The parades, art, and music are really worth experiencing.

    Kweeny ~ Yes! I had a great time, and those marching in the parade seemed really passionate and involved in the holiday.

    Dex ~ Oh! That would be awesome. I'm not sure how that large a puppet could be operated. With a giant crane perhaps? Well, you have a year to create a giant skeleton puppet, if you want to give that a try! :) I'm not sure what this one was made from, because I didn't walk closer to it. My guess would be that the bones were made from paper mache.

    LuLu ~ Yes! Some of the women in this parade had beautiful dresses on. I liked their braided hair too. I thought the skeleton band was beautiful in its own way too.

    Vivienne ~ Yeah, I feel really lucky to have seen this. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos! With that first video, you almost were there with me. That was basically what I watched, only I was standing on the ground. So, I had a slightly lower view of things.

    Annie ~ I'm glad you enjoyed these pictures! It was something truly unique to be a part of. I love sharing my photos and experiences with you guys. I'm able to enjoy events a second time by blogging about them!

    Marvin ~ Are there any of these events near you? I don't think anyone would accuse you of anything. In fact, I think they would be pleased that you are interested in their culture. The people in this parade and at the art gallery were very welcoming. I've been to some cultural festivals and events where I'm clearly part of a different ethnic group than everyone else, and the people there are always so nice! I went to a Middle Eastern festival a few years ago, and the people there were being very inclusive and wanted to teach about their culture. I've never once felt turned away from something like this. I know if I were taking part in an event celebrating say, my Irish heritage, and someone who was clearly not Irish attended it, I would be flattered that they were open to learning about Irish culture. I'm just trying to say, don't be afraid to check out different ethnic festivals and events! The people organizing the event will probably welcome you.

  10. Festive is addicting once you get addicted to it!

  11. Matt ~ It's true, the more interesting things a person goes out and does, the more they want to do! I think being addicted to doing festive things is pretty healthy as addictions go. :)

  12. What an amazing parade. I wish I was there to see it. Looks like you had lots of fun, and yes, you should stay late next year lol

  13. I have always wanted to go to a Day of the Dead parade. It looks amazing.

  14. How spectacular!! I would have absolutely loved to be there and witnessed this parade!

    I wish we had more Hallowe'en events here in England. There was a Zombie Walk near my mum's when I went to visit which I only just found out about the day before I arrived. I would have definitely joined in on that if I had known in advance! Maybe next year!

    All the costumes are lovely. Everything is so colourful, creative and fun! The giant skeleton is fantastic! I want him!

    The skeleton head masks are awesome but the girl in the leopard print costume and the last Youtube clip reminds me more of African tribal costumes/dancing more than Mexican day of the dead haha! x

  15. Cherry ~ Yeah, it was awesome! Well, in a way you did get to see it. Watching that video is almost like being there. Well, if you were standing on a car to watch anyway. :) I'll definitely be staying until the end next time. Those dancers were great and the drums were hypnotic.

    Jessica ~ I didn't even know there were parades for Day of the Dead before this year! It was pretty amazing. The participants put out a lot of effort for this. It sounds like you're familiar with Day of the Dead parades. Are there some events near where you live?

    VainGlorySinner ~ Hey there! How was your trip over Halloween? That's too bad that you missed the zombie walk. I guess those are happening all over the world!

    Yeah, I loved all the bright colors. That's one of the best parts of this celebration. There's death and skeletons, but also all this bright happiness. I want the giant skeleton too, although I have no idea where I'd store him!

    Yeah, I can see what you're saying about the African tribal clothes and drums. An African influence on Mexican culture was mentioned at the gallery event I went to earlier. That was all new to me. I never thought of an African presence in Mexico before. I plan to research that at some point.